African football leaders suspected of having their fingers in the CAF till should expect to find themselves under investigation from the ethics committee of world federation FIFA.
Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later although the ethics committee does not have the best of track records in terms of speed of process.
Urgent action is necessary, however, partly because next year sees elections in the African confederation and partly because the world governing body needs to demonstrate clearly and publicly that it is not backsliding on repeated promises from president Gianni Infantino that this is a “new FIFA”.
To that extent this is not only an African issue: the credibility of Infantino and FIFA is at stake here.
Already frustration is growing that nothing has yet emerged from the ethics committee – one way or the other – about concerns surrounding the CAF leadership of its president Ahmad Ahmad from Madagascar.
Infantino diplomatically avoided a direct answer on the state of play concerned Ahmad at last week’s congress of the international sports journalists association AIPS.
Ahmad has denied all allegations of wrongdoing. His CAF status means he is also one of six vice-presidents of FIFA. The other CAF delegates to FIFA Council are Tarek Bouchamaoui (Tunisia), Almamy Kabele Camara (Guinea), IOC member Lydia Nsekera (Burundi), Walter Nyamilandu (Malawi), Constant Omari (DR Congo) and Hany Abo Rida (Egypt).
Suspicion has been rife that FIFA had been content to allow the Ahmad drama – including allegations of abuse of funds and sexual harassment of staff plus French criminal inquiries into a marketing deal – to play itself out down the election road.
However the submission at the weekend of a damning audit of CAF’s financial affairs from PwC has changed the timing landscape.
The audit included claims that cash had been doled out unchecked for a never-ending string of personal and family expenses claimed by CAF exco members. This cash-heavy culture extended back into the regime of the previous long-serving CAF president, Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.
A FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA is aware of the PwC report and is currently gathering additional information in connection with this matter.
“FIFA has been and continues to be in touch with authorities around the world, exchanging information to help them do their job and to provide the independent bodies of FIFA with any additional information that might be relevant for the internal ethics proceedings.”
FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura is returning to Zurich after the completion of her six-month stint trying to sort out the CAF administration.
Many CAF exco were happy to see her mission ended but they may find this proving a double-edged sword: she is now safely at a distance from the line of fire of any disciplinary and ethics investigation.
Credit: KEIR RADNEDGE